FAITH & REFLECTION — CBC’s Peter Mansbridge interviewed Rick Hansen recently. The 11.5 minute interview was impressive. Hansen, now 59-years-old, was injured in an automobile accident at the age of 15 and has been in a wheelchair since.
While the interview did not address Hansen’s achievements, I remember when he embarked on a 26-month, 40,000km global trek in his wheelchair. That tour encompassed 35 countries and raised $26 million for spinal cord research.
In 1987 Hansen married Amanda Reid, his physiotherapist for his Man in Motion World Tour. Rick and Amanda have three daughters.
Back to the interview — the most impressive part was when Hansen explained that not only is his life full, but the beauty of life in the pain and suffering and the mindfulness and discipline involved in owning our situation is not only possible, but fulfilling. Hansen does not define himself by his disability, but by his personhood and his potential.
I work with people on an occasional, if not a regular, basis who define themselves according to their affliction, addiction, limitation, heritage or situation. There is really no going forward from this sort of personal definition. If that is how we identify ourselves, we are stuck. And we are so, because this sort of current description suggests that it is both an ongoing and perennial condition.
People who believe in Jesus, though they may carry with them truckloads of baggage and numerous challenges of a physical, psychological, or spiritual nature, need to define themselves as Christians. Reading and studying, then re-reading and re-studying Who I am in Christ (www.webministries.info/papers/whoiamin.htm), popularized by Neil Anderson, will be a big help. Incidentally, there are more than 160 verses in the New Testament describing the believer’s identity in Christ.
With those who are not quite sure about the Lord, it is good to remind them that all of creation is special because of Who created it. However, the Bible highlights mankind as God’s special creation. Christians, with no intention of being demeaning, tend to present a two-tier portrayal of mankind. While there are two types, those who believe in Christ and those who do not, there is only one tier and that is that all of mankind are created in God’s image. And that makes us very special!
In his later years, Friedrich Schleiermacher, German theologian, philosopher and biblical scholar and “Father of Modern Liberal Theology” was sitting on a beach. A policeman, thinking he was vagrant, asked him, “Who are you?”
Schleiermacher, in spite of his fame and lofty academic achievements replied sadly, “I wish I knew.”
“If anyone is in Christ, they have become new creations…” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
It is difficult to become refined, without first being defined.